Friday, February 8, 2013

Making plans when you have depression and OCD

Thursday morning I recognized two things: I need to make a plan, and I’m not a very good planner when it comes to my personal life.
I had this mini-epiphany as I was getting ready to go to work—at 11 a.m. I had spent most of the morning in bed, not sleeping as much as just lying there trying to figure out what to do with my day.
It was the last day of my pay week. I had already worked 31.5 hours. I’m working a new 32-hours-a-week schedule.
But I had a court hearing to cover at 3 p.m. And I needed to try to set up an interview for a story I’m working on.
Because of this combination, I couldn’t decide when to go into work, how many hours to work, and how to spend my time before work.
Having a plan would have helped.

Over the years, I’ve developed certain habits as I’ve dealt with OCD and depression. Some of those habits influence how I plan my time.
OCD is very restrictive. It tries to dictate how you do things and when you do things.
When I started getting treatment for OCD, I was glad to begin to be free from many of the restrictions. I started to avoid adhering to a strict schedule when I didn’t absolutely have to. Too much of a schedule can feel like OCD.
Also, I made many plans over the years that got interrupted by OCD rituals like checking. I disappointed myself and others many times by being late for something or not finishing something because I was taken up in an OCD storm.
Unfortunately, I translated that into the habit of not making plans so I wouldn’t disappoint myself or anyone else.
Having depression also influences me. When I’m in a depression slump, planning a day seems to be useless when there’s nothing I want to do. Planning for the future is too difficult when I can’t look forward to anything.

OCD and depression have influenced me, but I know that I can’t stop there.
I’m responsible for how I spend my time, and I’m responsible for my habits. I’ll have to rise above the influences of OCD and depression.
Having a plan for how many hours I’ll work a day and for the time I’m not at work will help me get out of some of those bad habits I’ve developed.

Here’s what I will do:
*Figure out a schedule a week at a time.
*Use my calendar of work tasks to figure out how many hours a day I’ll need to work.
*Make a list of things I want to accomplish each day.
*Include in my lists chores and errands I need to take care of.
*Block off times to do the things that I value the most.
*Develop the habit of getting up early every day.

How much of a planner are you? Do you plan out your day, week, or month? Do you have any suggestions for those who have trouble coming up with a plan?

22 comments:

  1. When it comes to planning I try to have a basic plan for my week and not get too nitpicky about planning every moment. I have a planner that I use to help me keep track of things, and that gives me some structure. I try to plan things on a weekly basis (and my planner is broken down that way) and that prevents me from being too overwhelmed.

    What I would recommend is to have a weekly planner (believe me, I've tried daily, monthly and this is what works best) and keep track of things like your interviews. That will give you some sort of reference frame as to when you should work. I also recommend scheduling in some you time and that will give you a bit of an idea of what to do when you have free time. Schedule in going to a cafe and reading a book, or a morning walk, or whatever you like to do for yourself.

    Good luck!

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    1. Yaya, thanks for sharing your ideas. You've got some good ones. I like the idea of scheduling "me" time. Usually I take it as it comes, and it doesn't always work out the way I thought it would. Scheduling it in might help make it happen.

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  2. I love how proactive you always seem to be. You have a great awareness of self. It shines through in all your posts.

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    1. Thank you, Keith. I am trying to be more proactive in making changes.

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  3. I really agree with you, planning. And I really think planning for a week at a time is excellent! In the past when I've tried to plan for daily rountines hoping to implement it as 'the law' for me- it brought me more anxiety! Because each week is different from the next, for me anyway. And when I've had a bad week, I can think ahead for the next week and actually plan a day (or more) where I simply relax... turn off my phone and close the windows and do what I need to help myself... read a book, watch a tv series I am into at the time, go into the backyard for sunshine and maybe pull weeds in the garden. (that's my plan for helping to pull me up from feeling depressed.)

    hey... thought I might share with you... and this isn't doctor advice so don't take it as a must or needful for you, for this is 'me'.
    I saw my psychiatrist yesterday, I am on 3 medincines to keep me out of the hole of depression. I am diagnosed with severe major depression and have had some serious hospital treatments as well. But, one med is for anti-depression... however, anitdession is not enough to do the job of firing all those thoughs neurons and sertonin and stuff like that. So, I am also on a med that works EXCELLENT to bring a smooth combination for deopression (it is an anti-psychotic , makes me cringe a bit to admit though. I don't have psychotic diagnosis, it is just that that med is what works for me. Praise God for my wise doctor who stays on top of the latest medications and how they can work for some despite the diagnosis.) ... then, though I am not bipolar... I have to take a mood stabilizer, not to keep me in the middle of two polars but to keep me in the same middle because my unipolar of depression is so sever. Yesterday my doctor was telling me the mood stabilizer med, actually first used for epilesly (sp?), strictly targets brain chemical definicies that cause the mood disorder- it is proven he says, as there is still a few mystery as to how some others meds actually are helping correct the 'broken' pieces in the brian, yet they significantly show improvement in patients. Also, I had to endure some immediate symptoms that the meds caused when I first began them. Mostly fatigue from the anti-psychotic, but now my body has adjusted to it and I am super! The mood stabilizer, just like my doctor said, would not cause me any symptoms to get used to and adjust to.

    I just wanted to share that with you because I remember in some of your recent posts about how you in the midst of trying new meds or adjusting the strength of current meds. And to encourage you in the 'medicine' side of this illness:)

    God Bless you:)

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    1. Thank you, Deanna, for your encouragement. I'm working on the medication changes, and it's good to be reminded that there are good options out there. I'm glad that you're having good results.

      Planning by the week works better for me, too, because my weeks vary in schedule, depending on what I need to do for work.

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  4. I'm really structured, so I love planning. :-) I kind of freak out when things are sprung on me, though, so that's the downfall.

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    1. Lisa, I understand about freaking out when the unexpected happens! I will try not to get too attached to my schedule because things happen.

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  5. I'm a planner, too, and I think it helps a lot. I keep a list of tasks for each big project I am working on (a book, the garden, for example). Then I keep a separate list for the week, and then create a daily to-do list from that. It sounds like a lot, but it doesn't take much time. If I know I have a lot going on the next day, I do my list before I go to bed so I don't lose sleep over it.

    I noticed in your post a few references to wanting or not wanting to do something. For me, keeping a list takes that out of the equation. If I'm working on a book, for example, I may wake up and not want to write...but I feel better at the end of the day if I do. So, I have to keep a focus on the bigger picture, and writing goes on the list whether I want to or not. Same thing with exercise. Since I exercise most days, people are often surprised to know that most days, I don't want to do it. It goes on the list anyway. When I cross a line through a completed task that I didn't want to do, I feel stronger and more empowered.

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    1. Nadine, such wise words! Yes, I do tend to get wrapped up in thinking about whether or not I WANT to do something. Looking at the big picture can change my attitude for the better.

      I used to do something similar as you with the lists. At my previous job as a health educator, I kept a long list of things I needed to accomplish, and I'd make my weekly to-do list from that. It worked well for that. I like the idea of applying that to different projects. Thanks for sharing that!

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  6. Very interesting post, Tina, and it makes me think of Dan who, currently, does not seem to be much of a planner. Maybe it's because, as you say, he's not so tied to his OCD, which used to plan his every move. I think planning is great, but flexibility is also key, and I might do a post on this subject as well............and quote you, of course!

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I remember being so glad to be free from "having" to do things a certain way, in a certain order, at a certain time because of OCD. I think I went too far in the other direction, though! I'll look forward to your post if you decide to write on the subject.

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  7. You have made some interesting observations about realizing that you need a plan. Lists help everybody, no matter what we suffer from. I have only just recently found your blog and am enjoying reading it.
    I have an even more simplified list than yours, but I also have a different mental disorder (bipolar) and I am at a different stage of life (retired).
    My list serves more as a pre-emptive strike, than a plan really. Always trying to avoid manic and/or be aware of a depression coming on.
    And so each day I write down YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW.
    I recall what went on yesterday and decide whether I have to be careful to maybe rest up today. Or I recall if tomorrow is going to be busy, therefore I better not be too busy today.
    It helps keep me vigilant of my ever changing moods and the effects my activities have on them.

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    1. Wendy, thank you, and I'm glad you found my blog!

      Your way of making a list seems very helpful. I can see how it would help when yesterday's activities can have a big effect on how you feel today, and today's activities can influence tomorrow's. I'm glad you found such an effective way to plan, and thank you for sharing it.

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  8. You are so organized Tina! I'm total chaos compared with you, but that just works better for me.
    When I make a schedule, which I've done in the past, it gets all messed up because my bipolar is the "rapid cycling" variant. Which means I might be fine at the beginning of the week and depressed or manic by the end. So I live from day to day, just planning one day ahead.
    Also, when I plan a whole week and I don't manage to do all the things on my list, which often happens, I get all disappointed. Not a nice stimulator!

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    1. Klaaske, I'm not really that organized, but I'm working on it! :-)

      I can understand how planning day to day works well for you. Part of the reason I think in terms of "a week" is because of my work schedule--we're a weekly paper, so the work is organized for that.

      I get disappointed when I don't manage to do all the things I wanted to do, too. We just need to remember that we're not perfect.

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  9. I usually plan by writing down things I need to do each day. But I haven't been doing that lately.

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    1. Kristina, it helps me organize, too, to write things down.

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  10. I work mornings, and I'm glad, because I think if I worked afternoons, I would sleep in instead of getting up to do schoolwork. And, though I haven't decisively concluded, I suspect I'm a morning person, except for the influence of depression and medication. My work, thankfully, is pretty similar schedule-wise one day to the next, so I don't have to specially plan around it. But schoolwork varies.

    I'm still a day-by-day planner, though. Often I write a list on my computer, and then at the end of the day, I can erase it all (either because I did it, or because the day is over and I'm writing a new one for tomorrow). I try to keep the list short so that I don't get overwhelmed, and sometimes when I'm feeling more fragile or overwhelmed, I just write 1 to 3 things on it, or even leave it blank. I like the flexibility of choosing when to do things in the day, but that is tempered by my work schedule, my lunch-and-rest tradition, when the laundry room at my complex is unlocked, and my general night time schedule.

    I'm glad OCD doesn't rule your schedule any more. Good luck on your scheduling!

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    1. Thank you, Abigail. OCD doesn' rule my schedule like it used to, but it still has some influence. I'm working on it, though.

      I'm glad your day-by-day planning works for you. I think it's so wise to not put too many things on your list so you don't feel overwhelmed.

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  11. I make a very rough list of things I need to get done, otherwise I'll forget ^_^! I slowly work on crossing things off the list—unless I lose the list (he,he!) I hope all goes well with your new plans!

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    1. Thanks, Katherine. I've made lists of things not to forget, and then I've forgotten to look at the list! :-)

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